Biden says he will sign federal mask mandate as he lays out 100-day plan to fight coronavirus pandemic

'I'm absolutely convinced that in 100 days we can change the course of the disease,' Mr Biden says

Danielle Zoellner
New York
Tuesday 08 December 2020 15:53 EST
Biden says he will issue a mask mandate on day one of his presidency

President-elect Joe Biden has said he will sign a federal mask mandate on day one of his administration, as he lays out his 100-day plan to fight the coronavirus pandemic

“I'm absolutely convinced that in 100 days we can change the course of the disease and change life in America for the better,” Mr Biden said on Tuesday when introducing key health advisors in his incoming administration.

“My first 100 days, I'm going to ask for a masking plan. Everyone for the first 100 days of my administration to wear a mask,” he added. 

The mask mandate would be enforced wherever possible “under the law”, Mr Biden said. This would include federal buildings, interstate travel, and other jurisdictions controlled by the federal government.

States would likely hold the power to mandate, or not mandate, masks in their own jurisdictions. 

“100 days to make a difference. It’s not a political statement, it’s a patriotic act,” Mr Biden said. 

Wearing a mask became a political statement under the Trump administration, as Donald Trump refused to issue any mandate that would require people to wear a face shield during the pandemic. Many states already have their own mask mandates for residents, in accordance with health guidelines, but other state governors have refused to issue those mandates by claiming it impeded citizen’s rights. 

But Mr Biden vowed that on day one he would “follow the science” when dealing with the pandemic, and health officials have found wearing a mask can help curb the spread of the novel virus. 

The mask mandate was one part of Mr Biden’s three-part Covid initiative for the first 100 days of his presidency. 

"Masking, vaccinations, opening schools. These are the three key goals for my first 100 days," Mr Biden said. 

His goal for the coronavirus vaccine was to get 100 million shots into the arms of Americans within the first 100 days. This comes as the Food and Drug Administration revealed it found Pfizer’s initial data from its human vaccine trials to be correct and the jab was 95 per cent effective in preventing someone from getting Covid-19. 

By the time Mr Biden takes officer, at least three pharmaceutical companies – Pfizer, Moderna, and AstraZeneca – could have emergency authorisation from the FDA. There are also other companies, like Johnson & Johnson, working to develop a vaccine. 

“Our preliminary review of Trump administration vaccine distribution plans confirms media reports, without urgent action by this Congress this month ... there is a real chance that after an early round of vaccinations, the effort will slow and stall,” Mr Biden warned. 

He implored for Congress to act now to pass necessary federal spending bills that would aid in the coronavirus pandemic. This action by Congress would also be required for Mr Biden to implement the third part of his Covid initiative, which involved opening a majority of schools. 

“It should be a national priority to get our kids back into school and keep them in school,” Mr Biden said. 

But Congress would need to act, according to Mr Biden, to provide these schools with the necessary PPE and additional funding to safely reopen. 

Mr Biden warned America still has a tough road ahead in fighting the coronavirus pandemic, specifically as the vast majority of the public waits to have access to a coronavirus vaccine. 

"As a country we've been living with this pandemic for so long we're at risk of becoming numb to its toll on all of us," Mr Biden said. “My first 100 days won’t end Covid-19. I cannot promise that. We did not get into this mess quickly, and it’s going to take time to fix. But I am convinced that in 100 days we can change the course of the disease and change life in America for the better.”

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